Music Piracy Can Be Controlled
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As long as existing copyright laws are enforced, Napster and other software for downloading and exchanging music files won't bankrupt record labels or artists, a panel of industry experts told a congressional committee Wednesday.
"I think there's going to be more music sold than ever," testified Chuck
D, a rap artist and founder of
"Copyrights have value," said Tom Silverman, the chief executive officer of the small record label company Tommy Boy Records and a member of the Recording Industry Association of America. "If there's no way to control [copyright infringement] ... nothing has value anymore."
Rather than writing new legislation that will be obsolete in a year, Silverman suggested more rigorous enforcement of existing copyright laws.
"File sharing technology is not a bad thing," said Peter Harter, a witness
on the panel and vice president for
But some dispute the panel's testimony that no legislative changes are needed.
"Why would anyone go and buy music from EMusic.com when you can get it for free from Napster?" asks Robert D. Atkinson, director of the Progressive Policy Institute's Project on Technology and the New Economy.
He would like to see changes made to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 to make it easier for judges to shut down sites whose dominant function is piracy, and to give a clear time frame in which Internet service providers must remove material found to infringe on copyright law. Currently, the act only requires that an ISP act "expeditiously."
Panel members, on the other hand, concluded that the music industry will have to revolutionize itself to remain viable in the Internet age. Harter pointed out that the Internet has made it possible for artists to sell their music without having to rely on a record label.
Independent rap artist Jahi, who attended the hearing, agreed that the Internet has made it possible for many independent artists to distribute music. He is using the Internet to expand his reach, and one of his songs is available for free download from Rapstation.com.
"New revenue models for music, like digital distribution, subscription
access, personalized radio, pay-per-view Webcasts, are all possible," testified
Ric Dube, an analyst for
"The PC is going to be the new CD player," predicted Matthew Skyrm, founder and chief executive officer of Kick.com, a start-up delivering personalized music content to PC users.